Archive for the ‘Investing in Education’ Category

Close the Word Gap and Build Stronger Brains with Language Nutrition

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Investing in Education
It’s not just kids, parents, and teachers who feel the impact of our public schools. If you’re a citizen of Delaware, then you are—in one way or another—affected by our state’s education system. Check back regularly as we take a closer look at how When Students Succeed, We All Win.

 

Differences in the size of a child’s vocabulary first appear at 18 months—and are correlated with education and income. Dana Suskind, author of the book “Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain,” offers a more comprehensive look at the word gap and what it means for student success.

 

Words and interactions are incredibly valuable to the rapidly developing brain of an infant. They’re so valuable that some early literacy initiatives have begun calling it “language nutrition.”

3 Implications for Our Kids and Community

 

  1. Interactions are key in the first few years of a child’s life. According to Harvard University’s Center of the Developing Child, parents can positively influence their children’s brain development through “serve and return interactions.” This means that when an infant or child cries, babbles, or gestures, the adult responds with eye contact, words, and touching. These interactions help build neural connections that support the child’s communication and social skills. Check out this video to see more on serve and return.
  1. Frequent, positive interactions and words matter. Higher income parents spend almost a half-hour more daily talking, interacting, or reading with their children than low-income parents. It’s not just the amount of words, it’s the type too. Positive, affirmative phrases (“please walk” versus prohibitive phrases such as “don’t run”) also have an impact on the child’s language development and a child’s stress level.

 

  1. The word gap matters for student academic and lifetime success. For many low-income early learners who get less face-to-face interaction (reading and speaking together), that means a higher probability of being less successful in grade school, dropping out of high school, and earning less income. To combat this, researchers are calling for programs that start earlier and that equip parents with what they need to bridge the word gap. One program called Starling is trying to do just that by partnering with nonprofits, government, daycares, schools, and other community organization to promote a device that counts words so parents and caregivers can track how much they are talking to their child. And home visiting programs, such as Nurse Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers, help families learn and practice skills to build their children’s brains.

 

Take Action

 

  • Share QT30 (Quality Time 30 Minutes) with families with young children. Delaware Thrives promotes “serve and return” among parents through age appropriate activities that encourage early childhood development.

 

 

  • Check out Parents as Teachers. Parents as Teachers programs happen across the state. The Christina Early Education Center is one example of this free early learning resource that provides parents with information on child development and activities that help build your child’s cognitive and motor skills.

 

Check-out the Rodel website to learn more about Delaware education policy issues from Early Learning to college and career readiness.

Third-grade Literacy’s Enormous Impact on Life

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Investing in Education
It’s not just kids, parents, and teachers who feel the impact of our public schools. If you’re a citizen of Delaware, then you are—in one way or another—affected by our state’s education system. Check back regularly as we take a closer look at how When Students Succeed, We All Win.

Third-grade literacy has an enormous impact on a child’s life. Research indicates that third grade is a critical turning point for students. A child who can read on grade level by third grade is four times more likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does not read proficiently by that time.

In Delaware, as many as 46 percent of third graders are not proficient in reading and a deeper look at the data reveals low-income, English learner, and special education populations are even more likely to miss this critical milestone.

 

There is work underway to improve student outcomes in early literacy. The Delaware State Board of Education is engaged in a Literacy Campaign and the state, with leadership from United Way and the State Board, has joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Literacy Campaign. Further, the Student Success 2025 Progress Report identifies early learning as a short-term priority and recommends adopting policies to increase reading by the third grade such as strengthening teacher training and preparation, literacy screenings and interventions.

 

This month, you can take action to shape Delaware’s state plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has developed a State ESSA Implementation Planning Grade-Level Reading Policy Priority Check-list that highlights specific policy recommendations that early learning advocates can prioritize in state ESSA Plans. The Delaware Department of Education will present the draft plan to the State Board on March 16 and is planning to submit it to U.S. Department of Education on April 3.

 

And if you’re interested in learning more about early literacy, here’s a short list of resources on policies and programs to increase the number of kids who reach the critical third grade literacy milestone, such as:

  1. High-quality early learning and expanded Pre-K. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), the state of Delaware ranks 33rd on access to state-funded pre-k.
  2. Family outreach and health supports that decrease chronic absenteeism
  3. High quality summer programs (like the Summer Collaborative) that decrease summer learning loss

Early Learning is a Better Investment than the Stock Market

Posted by
Investing in Education
It’s not just kids, parents, and teachers who feel the impact of our public schools. If you’re a citizen of Delaware, then you are—in one way or another—affected by our state’s education system. Check back regularly as we take a closer look at how When Students Succeed, We All Win.

 

Experts equate a $4-$9 return for every dollar spent on high-quality early learning programs for low-income children.

But that’s just the beginning.

Nobel laureate James Heckman writes more about the benefits of investing in pre-K in his research paper The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program. NPR talked to Heckman for more context here: How Investing in Preschool Beat the Stock Market, Hands Down.

 

Here is our CliffsNotes summary of the three major takeaways and three ways you can take action.

 

3 TAKEAWAYS

  • Wraparound supports and personalized attention pay off. The return on investment mentioned above is derived from the monetized, social benefits of wraparound supports and personalized attention, which include the promotion of health, crime reduction, greater earnings, more education, and a higher IQ.

 

  • High-quality pre-K is linked to fuller, richer lives for kids—and their parents. High-quality childcare helps working parents enhance their own lives by allowing them time to get more education and more work experience. For many single, working-class parents that means an increase in social mobility, and an overall more enriched family environment for kids.

 

  • High quality pre-K can increase parental engagement, which is an important factor in the development of a child’s social and emotional learning. A program that engages the child and then shares the child’s success with the parent has been shown to garner more parental engagement than a program that does not. For example, practitioners from one pre-K program read to the child, engaged the child, and then showed the parent the child’s progress. While reading to the child helped increase the amount of words she learned, she also benefitted from having a parent involved in her learning.

 

3 OPPORTUNITIES TO TAKE ACTION

 

  • Join a Readiness Team in your community. Delaware Readiness Teams are a way for families, early childhood programs, educators, and community and business leaders to expand support systems for kids from birth to third grade using information based on community assessments and action plans.

 

 

 

Check out the Rodel website to learn more about Delaware education policy issues from Early Learning to college and career readiness.

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